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Montgomeryshire Churches Survey

Church of St Gwrin , Llanwrin

Llanwrin Church is in the Diocese of Bangor, in the community of Glantwymyn in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SH7866003530. At one time it was dedicated to St Ust and St Dyfrig.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 15842 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Llanwrin Church, CPAT copyright photo 2411-01.JPG


St Gwrin's church in the small settlement of Llanwrin, three miles to the north-east of Machynlleth, is a single-chambered structure of late medieval date, and retains a 14thC piscina, and from the 15thC a largely renewed arch-braced roof, a screen, some stained glass and a font. There is also 17thC woodwork including an altar table. The church was restored in 1864. It is sited within a circular stone-walled churchyard on the north bank of the River Dovey.

A simple church, perhaps with walls of late medieval date (14thC or 15thC?), but with some rebuilding - in the 19thC? - particularly at the east end. 19thC restoration windows. The porch appears to have been rebuilt at the time of this restoration.

Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam


Tradition has it that it was originally dedicated to Ss Ust and Dyfrig, two saints who came over from Brittany in 516. Later they were replaced by St Gwrin. Certainly the dedication, the churchyard morphology and the location together point to an early medieval foundation.

It is recorded in the Norwich Taxation of 1254 as 'Ecclesia de Llanuril' at a value of 13s 4d.

Nothing is known of its history during the medieval era, although it is assumed that the walls may be of 14thC or 15thC date.

A west gallery was added in the mid-17thC and removed in 1864.

Glynne visited Llanwrin in 1852 and noted the 'rather plain' Perpendicular screen.

The church was restored by Benjamin Ferrey in 1864.


The church consists of a single chamber with a south porch and a bellcote over the west end. It is aligned north-east to south-west but for the purpose of description 'ecclesiastical east' is adopted here.

Fabrics: 'A' is of linear blocks of buff, grey and brown shale and sandstone, grey-black shale, pebblestones and occasional quartz rubble; also some lumps of red sandstone which may be re-cycled; relatively heterogeneous masonry. Heavy pointing prevents a clear picture of the degree of coursing. 'B' is of more regularly fashioned slabs of local stone, buff or iron-stained; irregular coursing. 'C' is similar to 'A', but contains slabs of yellowish sandstone/shale.

'A' is believed to be medieval, perhaps 14thC or 15thC; 'B' is Victorian, as perhaps is 'C'.

Roofs: slates with recently renewed lead flashing on the ridge of the roof. Cross finials to the chancel and south porch.

Drainage: north and south wall guttering and downspouts lead to soakaways. A deep gully on the north where the church is terraced into the slope, and a gully, too, on the west.


Nave and chancel. General. Described together as no external differentiation. Largely fabric 'A', with some 'C'.

North wall: in 'A' at the western end, but the most easterly bay is in 'C'. Three buttresses with dressed facing stones, separate the wall into four bays and all but the most easterly bay contains a window. Three two-light restoration windows with square-headed apertures containing two trefoiled, two-centred lights, all Victorian.

East wall: base of wall in 'A', but from springer level upwards in 'C'. The east window in Perpendicular style but wholly renewed or replaced in the Victorian restoration; it has a two-centred arch with a hoodmould that has simple stops, over two rows of five trefoiled, two-centred lights separated by a transom; two sub-arches and panel tracery above. Resting against the wall are five memorial slabs ranging from 1703(?) to 1843, four of them 18thC.

South wall: in 'A' but there are places as between v) and vi) and around viii) (see below) where rebuilding in 'C'. A plinth with a faintly cambered top rises to about 1m and continues along the south side only as far as the doorway (i) - its significance is unclear. Features in the wall from the west are i) a two-centred arched doorway with chamfered jambs ending in bar and broach stops, and a single heavy planked door, the entrance to the area below the old gallery. ii) a single, broad, trefoil-headed light set in a square-headed frame. iii) the porch. iv) Victorian window of form seen in the north wall. v) buttress. vi) window as iv). vii) buttress as v). viii) window similar to but slightly different in detail from vi). ix) a slate slab of 1728 inserted into the wall below viii) and a further slate slab laid flat against the wall dating from 1744.

West wall: battered at base, and there is also an irregular concrete basal plinth to a height of 0.3m. The whole wall is rendered. One window with a two-centred arch over two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil tracery light above.

Above the gable is a stepped bellcote in 'B' with sandstone dressings, rising in three tiers; a shouldered arch to the aperture; a single bell; and a cross at the gable apex.

Porch. General. In 'B', though some localised use of pebblestones in the south face. Plinth with chamfered dressings for coping at a height of 0.4m and this continues around the diagonal buttresses.

East wall: plain but for a single narrow Victorian lancet.

South wall: short diagonal buttresses at the corners. Open entrance way through a broad, two-centred arch of Victorian date, the jambs chamfered with bar and broach stops, and the arch of two orders, all in pink sandstone.

West wall: as east wall.


Porch. General. One step up to a slate slabbed floor. The bare east and west walls are clearly of 'B' and have bench seats set in the splayed apertures below the lancet lights; and above the arch in the south wall is an 1864 restoration commemorative tablet. Roof of six arch-braced collars of Victorian design.

North wall: pointed arch, chamfered dressings with fancy stops. A pair of heavy studded doors. One step up to the nave.

Nave. General. Slate slabbed floor with raised planked floors under the rows of benches; heating vents beneath the carpets. Walls plastered and all the restoration windows are set in deeply splayed peaked apertures with only the dressings exposed. Roof of arch-braced construction: nine arch-braced collar trusses forming eight bays across the nave (six) and chancel (two), with the trusses at the extremities against their respective walls; the bracing rests on pseudo-hammerbeams rising from stone corbels, and there are three tiers of cusped windbraces. The writer feels that most of this roof has been renewed.

North wall: window embrasures as noted above. Three flat wooden wall posts support oil lamps. One 20thC slate memorial.

East wall: division with the chancel formed by a screen, and above it a truss which is in no way different from the other roof trusses.

South wall: window embrasures as noted above, and the embrasures for both the south door and that at the west end of the church which is no longer used. Three oil lamps as on the north side.

West wall: a low stone wall (about 2m high) originally supported the mid-17thC west gallery. This wall is plastered over, capped with a cornice pierced with twenty-four and a half trefoils and surmounted by a parapet. A central peaked opening with sandstone dressings leads to the west end which now functions as an open vestry. Both the doorway and the cornice are Victorian. An undated Incorporated Society for Building and Churches plaque hangs on the wall. The main west wall has a large high deeply splayed two-centred arch to the west window. A slate slab of 1781 is affixed to the west wall below the window.

Chancel. One step up to the chancel with a 19thC tiled floor and further steps to the sanctuary and to the altar. Walls and roof as described under nave.

North wall: has an alcove with a segmental head set behind the choir stalls; it is plastered and is approximately 0.7m wide by 0.5m high and 0.35m deep. A second, square aperture to the east of it exposes the core of the wall and it has been suggested that this is where the old altar rails may have been keyed into the wall. One 19thC brass on a marble plaque.

East wall: wainscotting to either side of the altar is believed to be the old wooden altar rails, the interstices filled with old pew panels. The carved panels bear the words of Psalm 26, v.6 in Welsh and on the south side of the altar carry the date 1709 and 'M R' and 'M D'. East window set in round-headed deeply splayed arch.

South wall: 14thC piscina, its arch with a cusped ogee head, and the alcove going deep into the wall, and exposing the stonework at the core of the wall, suggesting that there has been some modification. There is a shallow bowl without a drain hole, and the whole feature is set low in the wall. The wall supports a large marble monument of 1742.


The churchyard is irregular in shape but has a distinctive curvilinear appearance. It lies at the heart of the small village of Llanwrin. The ground within it slopes steeply from north to south and it is possible that some of its south-western side has been lost. It is well-maintained.

Boundary: stone wall on all sides, sometimes acting as a retaining wall as on the south-west. On the south-east the wall is internally buttressed.

Monuments: even distribution on all sides, and some regimentation of memorials in rows. Mainly slate slabs; a few chest tombs, railed graves or crosses. Slabs of late 18th and 19thC date, but there is a ledger of 1744 against the south wall, and south of the church is a fine chest tomb with a guilloche border from 1701. There is another good chest tomb of 1770.

Furniture: a slim square sandstone pillar with a square slate slab surmounted by a gnomon and inscribed 'I stand amyddst ye flowres to tell ye passinge of ye houres' from two Englishmen of Llanwrin 1950'. Its pillar is very worn suggesting re-use. Could it have part of a churchyard cross? Outside the churchyard on land fronting an adjoining property is a sandstone baluster pillar which probably supported an earlier sundial.

Earthworks: the churchyard is nearly 2m higher than the external ground level on the south-west, on the south-east about 1.3m, and again about 2m on the north-east.

Ancillary features: the main east entrance is through a pair of wrought iron gates set in a pointed arch; a tarmac path leads up to the south porch and continues west to a single gate in a two-centred arch in the south-west wall.

Vegetation: the oldest yew is a trunk with off shoots beyond the east end of the church. There is also a 19thC yew in the centre of the south part of the churchyard.

Sources consulted

CPAT Field Visit: 17 March 1996 and 18 September 1998
Crossley and Ridgway 1947, 201
Eisel 1986, 188
Haslam 1979, 153
Lunt 1926, 471
NLW Bangor Parish Records
NMR Aberystwyth
Powys SMR
Quinquennial Reports 1988 and 1993
Click here to view full project bibliography

Please note that many rural churches are closed to the public at certain times. It is advisable to check when the church will be open before visiting. Information about access, or how to contact parish clergy, can often be obtained from the relevant Diocesan Office which can be found through the Church in Wales website. Further information about Llanwrin Church may also be found on the Bangor Diocese website.

The CPAT Montgomeryshire Churches Survey Project was funded by Cadw as part of an all Wales survey of medieval parish churches.

This HTML page has been generated from the Cadw Churches Survey database & CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record - 17/07/2007 ( 22:02:05 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7RR tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email -, website -

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